Many people like to grow peppermint in their gardens and kitchens. It’s one of the most popular kinds of mints to use in cooking because of its powerful flavor. The problem with peppermint is that it can spread like wildlife if it’s left unchecked.
So, what are you to do if you want to grow peppermint, but are afraid that it will take over your garden? Well, fortunately, you have a few options. Peppermint is pretty easy to contain as long as you take the right precautions and have the right materials.
Below, I cover how fast peppermint spreads as well as what you can do to stop it spreading including whether growing it in pots helps.
Why Grow Peppermint?
There are a lot of reasons to grow peppermint. Peppermint can be used for a lot of things and is very popular around the world. Most commonly, it’s used in cooking. It produces a sweet and refreshing punch to any dish.
Along with the taste being powerful, the scent of peppermint is also very strong. This is why a lot of people like to use it to boost the smell in their home.
Many people will dry the leaves of peppermint and use it as potpourri around their house. The leaves can be placed in a bowl or inside a cloth satchel and left on the windowsill.
Not only is the aroma pleasant to us, but it acts as a deterrent to pests. Although humans generally like the smell of mint, it is very disturbing to pests like insects and rodents.
If you’re having trouble with pests in your garden, consider planting some mint. If you’re having trouble with pests in your home, try using some peppermint essential oil. Read more about using mint to repel pests here.
Do Peppermint Plants Spread Like Regular Mint?
There really isn’t any such thing as “regular” mint. There are 25 species of mint in the world, and each has its own taste, scent, and appearance.
As far as “mint” goes, it is a very fast spreading plant. The speed at which a mint plant grows depends on the environment it’s living in and which kind of mint you’ve planted.
As far as “peppermint” goes, it’s one of the fastest growing mint varieties out there.
How Fast Does Peppermint Spread?
In general, peppermint can grow 4 inches a month. When you’re growing it while it’s young, you’re going to need to transplant it into larger pots frequently.
If you start with a root cutting, the plant will fill out a 4-inch pot in only one month. After another 4 weeks, it’ll have outgrown the next pot and will need planted into a larger one. Eventually, if you want your plant to keep growing, it’ll need to be planted in the ground.
For some perspective, a plant can go from a juvenile root cutting to a 2-foot-long plant in just 6 months.
How Can You Stop Peppermint From Spreading?
You have a few different options to stop peppermint from spreading, it really just depends what you’re end-goal is. If you like your mint plants but don’t want them to take over, that’s an easy fix. If they’re already taken over and you’re trying to get rid of them, that’s harder.
Here are some things you can do depending on your goals:
If you’re planning to grow peppermint but aren’t sure where to start, you’ll want to start with barriers. Figure out where you want your mint to grow and how big you’d like it to get. Peppermint will continue to spread indefinitely unless you stop it, so you need to set boundaries.
Once you have that figured out, the rest isn’t so bad, you just need to make sure you set up the boundaries properly. Peppermint can grow so far so quickly because of their underground rhizomes. Rhizomes are kind of like roots, but they’re thicker and they’re masters at spreading. They will shoot off new plants so that you’re no longer dealing with one mint plant, but multiple.
The good thing about this is that the rhizomes only grow horizontally unlike plant roots. So, if you place a barrier in its way, a rhizome cannot continue to grow.
To do this, you’ll need to dig at least 6 inches into the ground to place your barrier. Some people use garden fences, while others just use planks. Either is fine, the most important thing is making sure they are at least 6 inches underground to stop the growth of the rhizome.
Slow Its Spread
If the mint has already been planted without barriers, it’ll be a bit trickier to prevent it from spreading. Like any plant, mint has its preferences for where it’s grown. You can slow down its growth by altering its growing conditions and making them less-than-ideal.
Mint does best in warmth and partial shade, so you could try covering it slightly with a tarp or mulch. The plant will become colder and its growth will slow.
Mint does best in high humidity, so if possible, you could try to deprive it of some humidity to make it grow more slowly.
Mint also prefers a slightly acidic to neutral pH. You could change its soil to something more basic to try and slow its growth.
If you’re truly desperate and your mint has grown way out of control, you may need to kill it. Digging up mint isn’t much of an option because you could miss some pieces. Because mint grows from rhizomes, missing even a small piece means that the plant could make a comeback.
You don’t want to use chemicals though, either. They should always be a last resort because they can harm your surrounding plants and the other life living in your garden.
Instead, you can try pouring boiling water over it.
You can also try a mixture of 2 cups of salt, 1 teaspoon of dish soap, and 1 gallon of white vinegar. You can mix these together in a spray bottle and mist over the mint plant. You’ll need to do this several times before you notice the plant begin to die off.
If that still doesn’t work, you can cover the mint in thick layers of newspaper followed by mulch. This combination will smother the plant.
Just keep in mind that any of these options have the potential to kill the other plants in your garden.
Can Peppermint Be Grown In Pots? Does This Stop It Spreading?
Pots are great for peppermint because they’ll stop any chance of spreading for certain. As I said previously, rhizomes can only grow horizontally, so once they run into the side of the pot, they’ll no longer grow. This means that you can get whatever size pot you want and the peppermint will only grow to that size. Fortunately, although the pot stops the growth of the plant, it does not hinder its health.
Pots are arguably the best way to grow mint because there’s no chance of it growing out of control. Whatever size pot you choose is however big the mint will grow. It’s even better than using a fence-like barrier because, if you don’t place the fence deep enough, your mint may spread.
Pots are great because you can even plant them in the ground. If you’re set on planting your mint in the ground but are worried about spreading, just use a pot. Of course, you’ll want to make sure it has drainage holes for the water. But besides that, you’ll simply dig a hole in the ground for the pot, place the pot along with your mint into the hole, and you’ll treat it like you would any other garden plant.
Like most kinds of mint, peppermint will spread like wildfire if you let it. Fortunately, there are ways of controlling your peppermint, whether you’re trying to grow it or get rid of it for good. The best way to control mint is simply to plan for it.
Choose where you’d like it to grow and how big you’d like it to grow. From there, set up barriers so that it won’t grow out of control. If you take these steps, you’ll be able to enjoy your peppermint and will never have to worry about it growing out of your control.
Want to learn more? Click here to learn if mint also spreads and here to learn how to dry peppermint leaves. You can also learn what to plant with mint here and find all my guides to growing mint here.
Suzi is a stay at home mom who is passionate about growing plants that look great and work great in the kitchen. She thinks nothing is better than eating something you have grown yourself.